The Anaheim Ducks have invited 34 forwards to training camp this year. At the conclusion of camp about 2/3 of the forwards invited will be sent to the AHL, back to juniors, or across the pond and back to their respective teams in Europe. However, these next few days are still going to be extremely important for several of the players.
There aren’t a lot of open spots on the roster going into the season. Nevertheless, the Anaheim Ducks still have a few very important spots left to fill. Training camp may not give the team all the answers they are looking for, but it will give them a better idea of what direction they should go in.
With Ryan Kesler spending the entirety of the season on LTIR due to hip surgery, Sam Steel more than likely already has a spot secured with the team. The relationship he already has with Dallas Eakins will make the transition of a full-time NHL spot a lot easier for the Ducks 2016 1st round draft pick. Training camp will give Steel, and the coaching staff, a better idea of what kind of responsibility the young center can handle.
There is no doubt that Sam Steel will spend his tenure with the Ducks as their second-line center, but, is he ready for that during his first full season? Probably not. However, training camp will give him the chance to work closely with the coaches and players like Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique to work out a game plan, improve his skills, and show everyone where he’s improved over the summer and what he can offer the team.
Who Takes Over for Corey Perry?
Corey Perry‘s contract buyout gives the team another spot that they can fill with their young and driven talent. It is unlikely that one of the young players like Troy Terry or Max Comtois will be rewarded with the first line right-wing spot alongside Getzlaf. However, the two likely candidates are Jakob Silfverberg and Ondrej Kase.
Silfverberg showed another side of himself last season, proving that he is better utilized in an offensive role. Leading the team in goals scored, he also showed that he can take on increased responsibility in stride. In a recent interview with Anaheim Ducks staff writer Kyle Shohara, Silfverberg said:
"“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing on and off the ice. If you start overthinking stuff, that’s when you get in trouble with being yourself. The biggest part with me is just being myself. We have a lot of young players, and they’re going to learn from us, the older players.”"
Going into a new season, with all of the changes made over the summer, the Ducks need a leader like JS33 in their top six. After his performance last season, he deserves to be rewarded. Nevertheless, on the flip side of the coin, the team really needs to work on spreading their talent evenly throughout the roster.
Enter Ondrej Kase, a spark plug on the ice. Despite his injury history and recent trade rumors, the young forward is due for a break out season. In his three seasons with the Ducks, he’s definitely shown the most chemistry with Adam Henrique and Nick Ritchie. Still, he hasn’t struggled with having linemates he doesn’t mesh with. Wherever he’s placed, he succeeds.
Playing alongside a playmaker like Ryan Getzlaf and another goal scorer like Rickard Rakell could do wonders for his continued development and give him the extra edge he needs to prove to the Ducks, and the rest of the NHL, that he’s a force to be reckoned with. With both Silfverberg and Kase at training camp, Eakins can test out who has better chemistry with the Rakell-Getzlaf duo.
Although I am a tad bias, I believe Kase is the right player for the job. Silfverberg would be a great option, but if Kase takes Perry’s spot on the first line, this opens up a spot for Troy Terry alongside Adam Henrique. The two of them had tremendous chemistry last season and Henrique would be a wonderful mentor for Terry as he navigates his first full season in the NHL.
How Do These Players Fit Into the Puzzle?
This is also going to be a very important training camp for Max Jones, Maxime Comtois, and Kiefer Sherwood. The three of them put on an incredible show for us during the Rookie Tournament. The trio doesn’t want to start their season in San Diego and they made that clear. If they can impress the coaching staff during training camp, it may give one of them the extra edge to push someone else out and start their season in Anaheim.
The Ducks do need to be careful though. Sherwood only has a few games left to play with the big club before he will have to be placed on waivers to go back to San Diego. So, if they want him on the team, they have to make a permanent spot for him, risk losing him, and have him spend the season in San Diego.
Training camp will also give Eakins and co. better insight into where players like Daniel Sprong, Carter Rowney, Derek Grant, and Devin Shore fit in the lineup. Will one of the centers have to move to the wing? Will one of them be moved to the AHL? Is a trade imminent?